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Ex-Austria foreign minister who danced with Putin at her wedding moves to Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin dances with then Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding in Gamlitz, southern Austria, in August 2018 (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin dances with then Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding in Gamlitz, southern Austria, in August 2018 (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin dances with then Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding in Gamlitz, southern Austria, in August 2018 (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

A former Austrian foreign minister who invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to her wedding and danced a waltz with him at the 2018 reception said she has moved to St Petersburg to set up a think tank there.

Karin Kneissl, 58, announced on messaging app Telegram that her ponies, which she has been keeping in Syria, were taken to Russia on a Russian military plane.

Ms Kneissl, from the right-wing Freedom Party, served as foreign minister from 2017 to 2019.

She was repeatedly criticised in Austrian and German media during that time for her pro-Russia views.

Russian President Vladimir Putin dances with then Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl as he attends the wedding of Ms Kneissl and Austrian businessman Wolfgang Meilinger in Gamlitz, southern Austria, on August 18 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin dances with then Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl as he attends the wedding of Ms Kneissl and Austrian businessman Wolfgang Meilinger in Gamlitz, southern Austria, on August 18 2018 Russian President Vladimir Putin dances with then Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding in Gamlitz, southern Austria, on August 18 2018 (Roland Schlager/Pool via AP)

Her dance with Mr Putin came just months after Russia was accused of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, with nerve agent Novichok in the United Kingdom.

Ms Kneissl said in her post that she moved her “books, clothes and ponies from Marseille to Beirut” in June 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, after which she says she was “banished” from France.

At the Eastern Economic Forum in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok earlier this week, Ms Kneissl told Russian state news agency Tass that she had set up the Gorki centre – a think tank associated with the state university in St Petersburg.

Because the think tank requires a lot of her time, she decided to move to Russia, she said.

The Gorki centre, Ms Kneissl told Tass, “deals, among other things, with issues of energy, migration and new alliances – issues in which I am well versed, which also affect the Arab and Islamic world, with which I am familiar”.

Ms Kneissl also said on Telegram that “since apparently nothing is going on in Austria and Germany beyond the economic crisis, my relocation is becoming a political issue”.

She added, in a swipe likely at her critics, that “the hatred that seeps out of Austria amazes not only me”.

In an interview at the forum with Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Ms Kneissl said “it’s not easy to move to Russia” because of the amount of paperwork involved but that she had already moved into an apartment she is renting in St Petersburg.